Friday's warm temperature prompted me to take most of the day off to pack up the Pug with camping gear, ride kilometers of dirt trails, and set up camp at a stealth shoreline spot as the sun set behind the trees shrouding the trail.
I like fire when I camp. It's one of the things that creates an enjoyable night in the woods. But it's dry here. So I brought the paintcan stove
to keep my fire in check. The stove was set up near my hammock, in a wet area, to further diminish the chances of starting grass or brush on fire. In addition to reducing the risk of starting an unwanted blaze, the stove heats water in my Klean Kanteen. It allows me to use less firewood, while enjoying more focused heat and sucking in less smoke than I normally would with an open fire. When properly elevated, the stove doesn't leave burn marks on the ground. And the ashes are easily spread or buried, so I can leave the campsite looking like it did before I arrived.
As my evening meal (Mountain House seafood chowder) was rehydrating in its foil pouch, I searched my cooking kit to discover that I'd neglected to repack my folding Ti spork after I'd washed it that morning. The thought of eating dinner and Saturday's breakfast without a spoon pushed me to find a replacement for the missing utensil. While combing the site for a piece of wood that could potentially become a spoon
with a bit of whittling, I glanced over at the empty Boddingtons beer can lying on the ground in front of the Pug. From that can came this
I folded the sharp edges over and crimped them down with my Leatherman pliers to avoid tongue and lip lacerations. The finished product isn't pretty, but it worked. No spoon-induced mouth injuries to report.
Other than the lack of a spoon, my cooking kit served me well again. The 500ml pot holds everything I need to boil water for a couple of meals. I can include 3 additional Esbit solid fuel tabs inside the pot, if the handkerchief lives outside of the pot. 6 Esbit tabs will typically boil enough water to make 4-6 meals, depending on my entrée choices and my desire for tea or coffee with my meals. Of course, I heat water in the Klean Kanteen, if there's a fire ablazin'. More often than not, I use less than 50% of my allotted fuel on a trip. I'm not limited to Esbit with this kit. A small alcohol stove and 150ml of alcohol fit inside the pot in place of the solid fuel tabs and stove. Alcohol is cleaner and faster than Esbit, but it's more temperature-sensitive. Esbit is less prone to flare-ups, and it won't spill...a plus when one is forced to cook in a vestibule due to unfavorable weather conditions.
One key to low-hassle, impromptu overnight camping trips is knowing the limitations of your gear. After years of refinement, my cooking kit is a known quantity. It rarely changes, and if it does, the change is a subtle upgrade. Plus, it's physically small, so I can always find a spot for it in a backpack, frame bag, or pannier. Down the road, I hope to build the same confidence in the rest of my gear.